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What do we mean by harassment?

In this context harassment usually refers to the use of one's social connections or status to place unjustifiable pressure on victims and threaten them—if they do not comply—with abuse or actions that would be disadvantageous to the victim's education, research, clinical training, club activities, employment, or other personal life, etc.

Academic harassment and power harassment are typical examples of this behavior. Sometimes these forms of harassment can be mixed with sexual harassment.

These forms of harassments can arise from individual differences in perception. It is important to realize, therefore, that even when the individual at fault is not aware that their actions constitute harassment, if the victim interprets their actions as being sexual in nature or constituting unjustifiable pressure, and are consequently made to feel uncomfortable or threatened, the actions can be considered harassment. So what specific kinds of actions on and off campus can be considered harassment?

Examples of verbal harassment:
  • When a person feels uncomfortable being told "And you call yourself a man/women?" etc.
  • When, during a lecture, a student objects to sexual language/actions on the part of the lecturer, and the lecturers responds with comments such as:
    "If you don't like it you don't have to attend this class."
    "I won't give credits to students who can't even take a joke."
  • When someone feels uncomfortable about comments regarding their body at social events or circle activities, etc., such as "you're quite top heavy" or "you're flat-chested".
  • Someone saying "Making tea and pouring drinks are girl's jobs".
  • When unpleasant rumors are spread about someone such as "they sleep around too much."
  • When someone is repeatedly told at training facility that "it's hard to get things done when you have to deal with girls".
  • When a woman says she has a stomachache and is asked "are you on your period?" in front of everyone.
Examples of actions that constitute harassment:
  • When a patient at a training facility touches a student's breast or backside on purpose.
  • When someone persistently stares at another person's face or body.
  • When an instructor makes students feel uncomfortable while providing instruction during practical skills training by touching their hands more than necessary.
  • When, during practical skills training, an instructor gets students to expose more skin than is necessary or touches their bodies without permission.
  • When an intoxicated instructor or student at a training camp or social event receives unwanted bodily contact.
  • When someone is persistently urged to drink alcohol.
  • When someone is treated or evaluated in an unfair manner purely because of their gender.
  • When, during a training trip, someone is called into a hotel room to drink alcohol with other until late at night against their will.
  • When an instructor demands to be picked up in a vehicle and a student feels their grades may be affected if they don't comply.
  • When a supervisor purposely withholds necessary information.
Examples of harassment involving audio/visual materials
  • When a student feels uncomfortable because of nude posters displayed in a laboratory.
  • When someone purposely shows another person an indecent magazine or pornographic video and is amused when the other person expresses their displeasure.
Examples of harassment using the internet or mobile devices, etc.
  • When someone makes persistent silent calls to someone they have broken up with.
  • When someone makes frequent late-night calls to another person when they have no particular reason for doing so.
  • When someone registers another person's email address to an online dating service without their permission.
  • When someone has obscene rumors spread about them online.

How to avoid becoming a victim or harasser

How to avoid becoming a harasser

While the manner in which people perceive speech and conduct of a sexual nature or unreasonable pressure differs in accordance with the nature of the situation in question, judgments pertaining to whether or not something constitutes harassment is dependent on the assessment of the victim.

In all of one's interactions with others, it is important to respect their character and build relationships based on a spirit of reciprocity. In order to avoid unintentionally becoming a harasser, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Don't assume that just because you have a good relationship with someone you can determine how much they would be prepared to tolerate.
  • There are cases in which a difference in status or position makes people feel unable to clearly express their reluctance. Don't misconstrue this as consent.
  • When providing guidance or advice relating to studies or research, or providing counseling relating to campus life, try to avoid giving the wrong impression by using measures such as keeping the door open, etc.
  • Remain sufficiently cognizant of the fact that people interpret actions and words in a diverse range of ways, and be particularly careful not to encroach excessively on people's personal space or touch people in excessively.
  • When physical contact or exposure of the skin is necessary during practical skill training and clinical training, make it a habit to do things such as asking those concerned for permission and only exposing a minimal amount of skin.
  • Remain fully aware that judgments about whether certain actions constitute harassment are not made by you, but the people with whom you are interacting.
How to avoid becoming a victim of harassment

It is often the case that the perpetrators of harassment do not show compunction about their own groundless assumptions and misinterpretations, and place blame on their victims, saying that it is the victims that let their guard down, and so on. In particular, it is not rare for people to misinterpret what they consider "revealing" clothing, "flashy" makeup, and the use of friendly language as an indication of affection or enticement.

Of course, they cannot be forgiven for zeroing in on these things that they consider as proof that their victims have let their guard down. It is, however, necessary to protect yourself by avoiding being misinterpreted in this way. To avoid unwittingly becoming a victim of harassment, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • To avoid misinterpretation be responsible in your words and actions, and maintain a resolute stance.
  • Do not carelessly disclose personal information such as your address, mobile phone number, email address, etc.
  • When receiving advice regarding study, research, job-hunting, and so on, be sure to behave in a restrained manner by maintaining an appropriate physical distance, and so on.
  • Act in a careful manner while engaging in part-time work and when job-hunting and do not accept invitations without careful consideration.
  • When you feel that someone's words and actions are unpleasant or upsetting, have the courage to communicate this clearly to the person concerned.
  • When you feel anxious about something, don't delay in discussing the issue with those around you and asking for help.
    (Click here for the Harassment Consultation Service)

What you can do if you become a victim of harassment

What you can do if you become a victim of harassment

When you feel that you have been subjected to harassment, keeping it to yourself and worrying about it will not solve the issue. Ignoring the issue or taking it in your stride is just a temporary measure and the situation won't go away by itself. In order to prevent others from also becoming victims and to make the unenlightened perpetrator understand the seriousness of the issue, summon the courage to do the following, before the harassment becomes even more serious.

  • Adopt a firm stance toward even trivial forms of harassment, and clearly communicate your discomfort to the person responsible. If necessary, be prepared to say "NO" unequivocally. Doing so can help stave off further harassment.
  • Don't worry about the issue by yourself. Talk immediately with someone you can trust or one of the counsellors listed on a separate page.
  • Don't try to sweep the problem under the carpet thinking it will go away before long or expecting that the perpetrator will come to their senses and understand your position.
  • There is no point in reproaching yourself and thinking "I may have been in the wrong too".
  • Make as detailed a record as you can of the harassment you encounter, noting down when, where, who, and what. Keep emails and so on as they can used to help solve the issue.
The rights of victims of harassment

Since whether or not actions constitute harassment is based on the judgment/perception of the victims, it is important to take action based on an understanding of your rights as a victim. Keep in mind the fact that victims of harassment have the following kinds of rights:

  • Victims have the right to decide how to act based on their own feelings and judgments.
  • Victims have the right claim that they have been subjected to harassment.
  • Victims have the right to fair treatment without being maligned by others.
  • Victims have the right to express their anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and so on.
  • Victims have the right to receive the necessary information, advice, counselling, and guidance.
When a friend tells you they have been subjected to harassment

When a friend tells you they have been subjected to harassment and are worried about it, tell them to avoid sweeping it under the carpet and advise them to respond to the issue in a resolute manner. If you feel that you are not able to solve the issue by yourselves, discuss the issue with a counsellor without delay.

Harassment counselling

Having someone listen to how you're feeling and receiving help allows you to face the fact that you have been a victim of harassment and helps you take steps to overcome it. Of course, the counsellors will keep what you tell them confidential and will always respect the wishes of the victim during the process of resolving the issue. Solving problems like this helps to provide you with strength that will put you in good stead for the future, so don't hesitate to make use of the counselling services.

The School of Medicine has counsellors who are specialized in dealing with harassment. You can receive counselling about harassment that occurs not only on campus, but also off campus such as harassment that occurs at your workplace or at training facilities.

How to apply
  • Please apply directly to the counsellor with whom you wish to speak by phone or email. The counsellor will contact you with the place and time of your meeting.
  • Counselling cannot be conducted over the phone or through email. Please be sure to book a meeting with a counsellor and discuss your issue with them directly.
  • Harassment counsellors only provide counselling on harassment-related issues. Counselling for other issues is undertaken by the staff at the Student Counselling Office.
What the counsellors can do for you

The counsellors can do the following for you:

  • They can listen to your issue and help you to sort through your feelings.
  • They can provide you with advice about how best to respond to the person that is harassing you.
  • They can help you with the decisions and procedures relating to requesting an investigation by the School of Medicine's Harassment Investigation Committee.
  • In emergencies they can provide you with provisional guidelines for actions to take.
  • Click here for the Harassment Counselling Office's contact information.